Howell County News/ Kacey Blunk

City Hall takes over Mtn. View Community Center

Picking up a discussion from last month’s meeting, the Mountain View Board of Aldermen voted to assume control of the rentals, management, and upkeep of the community center. Last Monday night was the second time the municipal government tackled the subject of the community center under the Chamber of Commerce’s management. In the December meeting, the Chamber approached the city with a request for $10,000 per year to help fund the salary of a full-time employee. No action was taken last month, but the aldermen did pose several questions regarding the organization’s function and their use of the community center. 
Alderman Laura Wagner told Howell County News the questions were mostly hers. She had “basic questions about the day-to-day operations” which included questions about the number of members, any new businesses they brought to town, details about the community rentals, and the duties and performance of the Chamber director.
Ultimately, Alderwoman Wagner said the city declined the Chamber’s request for funding because the aldermen want to see progress updates from the Chamber. She reports receiving complaints from area businesses about the Chamber’s effectiveness.
Until last week, the Chamber of Commerce had control of the Community Center’s rental schedule, and they kept all revenue from rental fees. Ricky Baker of the Chamber reported rental fees generated “about $4,000,” according to the draft minutes of the meeting. The city has always maintained the costs of the center’s upkeep as well as utilities. 
In the Jan. 10 meeting, Alderman Murray Anderson reported a conversation with the city’s financial consultant in which the consultant recommended the city to “follow protocol” regarding the community center rental fees. 
City Attorney Deedra Nicholson reported that there has not been a contract in place between the city and the chamber “for several years.” The contract that formerly existed provided for the Chamber to keep the community center’s rental income as a salary for the “economic development director.”
The Chamber is currently seeking to hire a director after the resignation of Trish Stoops on Dec. 31, confirms Baker on behalf of the Chamber.
Alderwoman Wagner made a motion to take over the rentals, management, and upkeep of the community center immediately. Alderman Lindell Vandevort seconded it, and the motion passed unanimously. 
“The city is taking over the responsibility of rentals because I felt having a part-time director who was in charge of rentals and all the other responsibilities, that it was too much for one person. We have staff on hand here at city hall who work 40 hours a week. Adding a small task of handling rentals would not be that cumbersome for our employees,” Wagner said.
“On top of that, the city handles the upkeep costs of the community center building, and that's quite an expense. It didn't seem right they were staying there and keeping those funds, not reporting the income to the city at all, and yet having us cover all the expense of the wear and tear on the building from those rentals.”
The alderwoman said she is hopeful the change will help the community center to be a more self-sustainable line item in the city’s budget.
Baker told Howell County News that transferring the community center responsibilities is “not a huge impact,” on the Chamber’s operating budget.
“The tradeoff between loss of revenue and freeing up more time for our new director is worth it,” Baker explained. “All our board sees this as a positive change… The discussions prior to the last City Council meeting with the council members has been very positive, and both groups seem excited about continuing to work together moving forward.”
Moving on, the aldermen resumed a discussion of late fees for utility accounts. Alderwoman Wagner made a motion to authorize the city attorney to prepare an ordinance instituting a 10% late payment penalty to delinquent notices. The motion passed unanimously. 
Mayor John Krasuski addressed the assembly on several topics at the conclusion of the regular agenda. 
First, he wished to congratulate the new Fire Chief, Jason Taber, who was officially sworn in during the meeting. Mayor Krasuski reported receiving positive feedback from residents. He read an email from the city’s insurance pool, MIRMA, that stated that junior firefighters are welcome to attend trainings but could not be fighting fire or be on fire scenes.
He later mentioned he was aware of the opinion piece that ran in this publication on Dec. 28 regarding this hiring decision. Mayor Krasuski declined an invitation from the publisher to submit a public rebuttal letter but invited constituents at the meeting “to come speak with him and hear the facts.”
Continuing his announcements, Mayor Krasuski reported the upcoming municipal election will be uncontested, but an official election will still be required. 
He gave an update on the city pool repair and the Oak Street project and acknowledged the City employees who worked “so hard” during the cold snap to restore power outages and fix broken water pipes. 
A closed session regarding employees began at 7:08 p.m. and lasted until 9:08 p.m. After returning to open session, Alderman Anderson moved to promote Johnny Taber from Wastewater Lead to Supervisor. The draft minutes do not record a vote or a second to this motion. 
In other actions:
-The City Clerk swore in the new Fire Chief, Jason Taber. 
-Ordinance 1728 passed unanimously repealing an ordinance requiring motorcycle helmets. State statutes changed, and helmets are no longer mandatory. 
-Municipal bank accounts will be changed by unanimous vote. Specifically, the payroll and electric deposit accounts will be combined into the general account to accommodate the accounting software and make it easier for everyday use. Checks-and-balance procedures will remain the same, and signers on the accounts will be Shannon Elliott, Sara Chowning, and Kelli Potts. 
-Ordinance 1729 passed and repealed an obsolete ordinance that empowered the mayor to act as police judge. 
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